One of our tasks as parents is to teach our children to be self-sufficient. As children enter adolescence, it is time for them to take charge of their bodies and their health. Make sure your pre-teen knows how to read prescription labels and directions.

  • Grab a snack and sit down at home with your child in a relaxed atmosphere without electronic distractions. Let him know it is time to begin taking responsibility for his body. Ask whether or not he knows the difference between over-the-counter drugs, prescription drugs, and illegal drugs. Many kids have already heard of these distinctions in health class. If not, take the opportunity to distinguish these general categories. Most importantly, share your feelings on the use and misuse of all drugs, on what you feel is acceptable and not acceptable, and explain why you feel the way you do.
  • Show your child a sample of a prescription drug container. Read the label aloud. Make sure to point out the following important items on the label: family member’s name; doctor’s name; name of the pharmacy and its phone number; prescription order number after the RX; name of the drug; dosage and dosage instructions; expiration date of the drug; and, of great importance, any warning directives or side effects related to use of the drug.
  • Make sure your child knows what to do if she ever feels ill after taking a prescription or if she thinks she is experiencing a listed side effect of the drug.
  • Encourage your child to communicate with you or the pharmacist if he has any questions about his medication.
  • If you feel it is appropriate, explain how to order prescription refills.
  • Consider going through your medicine cabinet together, noting expiration dates. Dispose of any medication that has expired or is no longer needed.
  • Take inventory of your family’s over-the-counter medications. Discuss which, if any, your pre-teen may take on her own and which she needs permission for.
  • Stress the importance of reading labels and all directions before taking any medication, whether over-the-counter or prescription. Their life depends upon it.

© 2015 The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance